Falmouth students harness sources of strength
What can withstand life’s darkest lows, ebb the tides of despair, and turn hope into health? In 1998, Marc Lomurray began to harness the power of resilience he had seen as a young social worker in rural communities and among northern plains tribes. Today, his Sources of Strength program is a recognized benchmark for suicide prevention and related issues. It is widely used in schools, universities, detention centers, military and community organizations.
Robin HaleyFalmouth High School Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator, introduced SoS training for students and faculty in Spring 2021 to help navigate through COVID-19.
“This year has been just as difficult, if not more so,” she said, and noted the alignment between SoS and the youth-focused Yellow Tulips suicide prevention program that a group of college students put together. implemented in 2020.
“The programs complement each other,” she said, “the difference being that SoS directly includes staff and ways to create everyday opportunities through conversation and language in classroom programs.”
The training inspired five art, music and drama teachers to form a learning team and introduce approximately 60 students to SoS concepts and small group activities. During the last spring semester, students worked on projects individually or in pairs, culminating in an SoS performance arts event in conjunction with the spring concert.
“We had a lot of creative freedom,” said a sophomore and an advanced art student Spencer Furze. “We all got something out of it because we all put a lot of effort into it.”
Quinn Hagerty noted how inherently personal it was to draw what he wanted and choose his own materials. While Hagerty made the most of the technical aspects of the project, he said the process also prompted some personal thought.
“There was a lot of looking inside and thinking, ‘What do I really appreciate?’ and take stock of it. It was therapeutic in a way.
Furze’s two self-depictions as an opossum interacting with animals contrasted the struggle of being knocked down by certain people with the sources of strength represented by his six close friends.
Both Furze and Hagerty said they enjoyed the communal atmosphere in the art room.
“I got to ask my friends what their plays meant to them,” Furze said, “so I learned about their struggles and their strengths.”
“The friendships that everyone developed while working on their pieces up close were really strong,” Hagerty said.
Elena Parrwho just graduated, worked closely with a new musician friend.
“My sources of strength are friendships,” she said. “Making this new friend reminded me of how friendships evolve, what they mean and how they have helped me throughout life, and so my art work was based on that. It was very therapeutic and brought us closer together.
His new friend co-wrote the song with Parr, contributed lyrics, helped with the melody, and created the two pieces of artwork needed.
In the struggle, her friend is depicted with dark vines of anxiety and depression clutching her neck and shoulders.
“Behind her are overlapping thoughts and images that crossed our minds as we were both in very dark places,” she said, “to give the sense of chaos that you get.”
The second coin commemorated the friendship with everything they love represented in bright colors. The three parts of the song described first a slow progression of mental health, the resulting paralysis, and finally asking and getting help.
“It led to this big climax that ‘we’re going to be OK,'” Parr said.
“From an adult or teacher perspective, after reading some of their reflections, I could see a more effective way to work with them after learning about their experiences and what they shared through their art. “Haley said.
“The hope is to continue to link in other departments,” she said, adding that it is a long-term goal for all high school students and teachers to take the training.
Lisa Joy is a member of the Falmouth Community Wellness Committee.
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